photo by: Bryon Powell, irunfar
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!...2:55a.m. The alarm goes off to wake me for what would be one of the best days of my life. Bundling up for a frigid morning (the temperatures had been in the record lows for the area this week), complete with my new Sprinter Black Diamond head lamp....Wyatt and I left for the course. The race started with the elite women's pack charging up the first hill. Initially, I got caught up in the competition, but quickly realized I needed to sit back and enjoy this beautiful, starry morning and eat some breakfast :) (Eating a lot throughout the race was the overall plan). We crest the first hill and I took off.... really just running my own race, using my strengths (the technical downhills mostly). I was surprised that no one came with me, but thought we would probably go back and forth a bit over these first few sections. That didn't happen. Although it was still dark, the stars lit up the ocean crashing against the rocks on the coastal trail as I ran happily. Shortly after that I arrived at the Tennessee Valley aid station (about 9 miles in) and took a brief look back to see the dancing headlights trying to chase me down. A little baffled at the amount of people and support at the aid station, Wyatt quickly stepped out of the crowd for the water bottle exchange and I was on my way. The next 20 miles were almost a blur with the exception of "THE" Timmy Olson literally helping me with my drop bag at one of the aid stations- I was shocked an ultra stud like that would take time to help me- just goes to show HOW AMAZING ULTRA RUNNING PEOPLE ARE!!!. Head down, focused on the course, I battled the cold wind. When I made the turnaround at the out and back portion of the course, I was greeted by Megan and Magda only a few minutes behind me. With the wind at my back and a technical downhill section next, I capitalized on my lead. Throughout the race I focused on taking a lot of GU Energy Gels, eating 3x as many Simply Bars as I normally do, and pushing the fluids. Good thing I had the Ultimate Direction Vesta to hold it all! Although it was a chilly day, the sections with sun burned me up! It was enough to soak me with sweat until I ran into a colder, damp mystical forest. What a diverse course! The unique sights, trails and challenges would put this event on top of my race charts.
Rolling through the aid stations, I was finally on the last climb. Frustrated, because I had just learned that Magda was only 1 minute behind ( actual: 7.5 minutes behind but no one knew for sure)...I was going to hammer up this last uphill and anyone who tried to pass me would have to die trying. There was only 6 miles to go at this point and once I got to the top it was a 2 mile downhill and 1 up to the finish...as my new friend Michael informed me and passionately said..."you got this!" as he climbed up and away. Totally locked in now, I was giving everything I had. I crossed the finish line in disbelief. How AMAZING God and his gifts are! I have never felt so blessed, grateful, and slightly overwhelmed. I've never crossed the finish line with that much media before. The cameras shot off like fireworks as I pushed through them, making my way to a hansom guy in bright yellow, my hubby, my head crew and #2 fan (not #1 because that is my brother's spot :) Throwing my arms around him, we embraced, my body relaxed and I whispered, "Go team Yates!"
7:21:51, 1st Female, 21st overall
The next few days were filled with way too much driving but an experience I will also never forget- Viewing the Redwoods. What power and strength these magnificent, mystical trees have. I was blown away.
Now, a few more days of rest, then back to training. No time for a long vacation as hoped...I didn't realize the shorter time frame I had in order to prepare for the next race, Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. Vacation to follow that race!!! Rocky here I come :)
THANKS TO MY SPONSORS:
1. ULTIMATE DIRECTION
2. GU ENERGY
4. BODY ARMOR SUPER DRINK
5. THE SIMPLY BAR
6. BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT
A message from 4-time USA 50 Mile Trail Champion Michele Yates for ATRA corporate sponsor Ice Spike. "MY SECRET WEAPON - LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THE BEST PRODUCT OUT ON THE MARKET THAT RESISTS ANY KIND OF SLIP, SLIDING, MUDDY, MUCK, TRAIL OR ROAD!...ICESPIKES. THEY ARE MY CHOICE OF TRACTION WHEN THE WEATHER OR COURSE CALLS UPON IT! ICESPIKES PROVIDE THE CONFIDENCE YOU NEED TO SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE ANY WORKOUT, EVEN SPEED WORKOUTS MID-WINTER! THE ICESPIKE DIFFERENCE IS PROFOUND. THE EASY-TO-USE SYSTEM CONSISTS OF SCREW-IN SPIKES THAT WON’T RUIN YOUR SHOES OR ADD WEIGHT. THE NATURAL FEEL IS UNBEATABLE AND A NO EXCUSE WINTER TRAINING TOTALITY." 20% discount on their entire order at www.icespike.com Enter Coupon Code: micheleyatesOther great Christmas gift ideas:1. Ultimate Direction hydration gear!2. A box of Salty Caramel Gu's from GU Energy3. A box of Simply Bars4. A case of Body Armor Super Drink5. A quality head lamp from Black DiamondGive gifts that keep on giving!!!
AFTER TAKING THE TIME TO WRITE A BLOG, RE-WRITE IT, SCRIBBLE IT OUT..AND THEN LET FRUSTRATION SET IN...I'VE DECIDED TO JUST LET THE MOVIE TELL THE STORY AND NOTE THAT:
I WON MY 4TH NATIONAL TITLE (3RD ONE OF THE YEAR), WITH A TIME OF 4:19:50 at the USA 50K CHAMPIONSHIPS BOULDER CITY, NV....THAT WAS A NEW COURSE RECORD BY 34 MINUTES!!! :) - FINISHED 12TH OVERALL AMONG THE MEN. I FEEL SO BLESSED! PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST QUESTIONS/COMMENTS OR EMAIL THEM, THANKS!
MOVIE OF THE RACE BELOW :)
Hello awesome fans, clients, and supporters. If you are interested, please follow this link to vote for you favorite ultra runner of the year ( IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ME...THERE ARE PLENTY OF AWESOME ATHLETES IN THIS DIVISION- but your support is very much appreciated for this growing sport!)...http://www.usmrt.com/roy
If you do decide to vote for me, my bio is:
1.January 1/12/13 Bandera 100k USA 100k Trail Champs 1st Female 10:08:48
2. March 3/2/13 Nueces 50 Mile USA 50 Mile Champs 1st Female 4th Overall (NCR) New Course Record 6:53:25
3. April 4/21/13 Indiana Trail 100 mile 1st Female and 1st Overall 17:35 NCR
4. World Championships IAU July 2013 103rd place-injured but helped USA score for the first time ever as a team
5. September 9/14/13 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile 1st Female 7th Overall 20:16:54 NCR
6. UROC 100k 9/28/2013 3rd Female 19th Overall 12:46:24
ULTRA- going beyond others or beyond due limit... so Webster's dictionary says.
The course at this past Saturday's UROC race was a challenging one. Weather conditions caused all sorts of fun surprises along the way, including: snow, wind, ice, mud, standing water, and anything else you can think of! High mountain climbs, steep descents, road, and bike path caused us all to dig deep. Each section had it's own little test with an exceptional view of beauty.
With that being said, congratulations to UROC race directors, volunteers, and the entire race committee on creating a course that was truly ULTRA. After all...aren't those diverse trials what ultra racing is all about? Running through the boredom, the strains, the hunger, the nausea, and even pushing ourselves through the easy?
That is exactly why I toed the line. To find out just how far I could dig but still try to enjoy the day!...and that I did. The beautiful sunny sky's, fall leaves, and fresh air made it all worth while. When I first started, my legs weren't too happy. The course would cause us to climb up a mountain from the start..then wind us down the snow covered trail to the first aid station. Wyatt quickly helped me change out my bottles and was on my way. Cautiously dancing over snow covered roots, rocks and ice covered puddles...myself, Stephanie Howe, and few others made our way together over to Frisco. I was surprised to see Emelie Forsberg in our sights as the trail spit us out down town. Staying together on the quick trip up to Miner's Creek road, we slowly started to separate. Steph took off with Emelie trailing and then myself. I could hardly keep up with Emelie and would eventually lose her especially at the top of the mountain where strong, snowy winds pelted the side of my face. There was barely evident tracks of the people in front of me as I slowly maneuvered my way across the ledge of the mountain between Frisco and Copper. Once on top...I took a brief second to check out the view and then bombed my way down the icy mountain all the way into copper. I could feel that 100 miler I did 2 weeks ago. I was thirsty, hungry, and pretty much doing the marathon shuffle on the bike path to 2-Elks trail.
Next up, a 2,000 foot climb in 2.4 miles. Of course snow, fallen trees and slippery conditions would suck the life right out of me. My water supply fell short this section and hunger struck coming into 2-Elk lodge. At this point, we had about 18 miles to go. I prayed. I prayed a lot, asking for God to help me bounce back and really cruise on these last miles. I wanted to at least hold on to 4th place. The nutrition would help. The next section into Minturn was a long grass covered descent, followed by a technical rocky section...my legs easily carried me down as I passed by 3rd place, Kerri Bruxvoort ( she too ran 2 weeks ago. but in the 50 mile...still an exceptional and inspirational effort by Kerri for toeing the line as well!). During that time, I thought of my plan for the next 10 miles so the aid station stop could be as quick as possible. Just a change out of water and I was on my way. Focused and determined to stay in 3rd place I gave the last 5 mile climb all I had. Night was falling upon us as I briefly grabbed some gummi bears at the last aid station before zipping down the final 4.7 miles. It would be the LONGEST 4.7 miles of my life! FINALLY, the inflatable, lit up,arched finish line appeared. Happily coasting through, I thanked God for making this one possible...it hurt like hell and there were times I wasn't sure if my legs were still going to move, but you never know in an ultra race what is going to happen! ...Same with life- so dig deep!
3rd Place, 12:46:24 ( a heck of a lot longer than I thought it was going to take!)...19th overall among the men.
ALL THE WAY!!!!!
Triple redemption...one might call it. On Friday, September 13th at noon, I started the Run Rabbit Run 103 mile course with thoughts of revenge. Not only did I let this race course beat me last year, but because of injury this year...I had been forced (for the last 3 months) to bomb one World Championship, give up another...and race well below my potential at a National Championship.
The deep elite group and I slowly climbed our way up Mt.Werner. We navigated our way through the long grass, trail, rocks and dirt until we reached some supporters at the top of the gondola. I quickly exchanged out my 2 Ultimate Direction handhelds for my Blaze Plus fuel belt...complete with GU Energy gels and a Simply Bar. This would be the start of a long day for crew chief and hubby extraordinaire, Wyatt Yates. Jordan Whitlock would soon join me for the rest of the ascent. A good friend of mine who encouraged me to run my own race even though Rhonda Claridge would briefly pass us at the crest of the mountain before I made a strong pass on the downhill leaving both of them behind.
The mountain weather wouldn't disappoint. I found myself already with a chill and quickly put on a light running shell jacket at aid station #2. Tim Olson would lead the way down the technical section of fish creek falls. Myself and a few other guys quickly passed through the aid station there and hammered down on concrete road to Olympian hall. There, I would meet up with Wyatt, do some more quick weather change outs, refuel and be on my way. This section of the course was a huge circle and on the back side (after yet another big climb), I found myself struggling mentally a bit. I questioned if my legs were going to bounce back and/or if I was going to get through this low so early in the race (around 30 miles). Meredith Terranova (backup crew), talked me through it. I was on my way again and with the extra encouragement on the course from her hubby, Paul Terranova...I found myself breezing through Olympian hall, back up Fish Creek Falls and on my way to Summit Lake for the first time. *** All of that would be put to a standstill...With a quick stop and stare down from a standing bear...I slowly raised my arms to make myself appear bigger, and let out a sigh of relief as he ran off the other way*** The easy road from Long Lake to Summit Lake would be cold, for now it was night time and the glow of dim lights along the way inspired me.
Next up, a rough, downhill jeep road that rolled right into Dry Creek Aid Station and continued on down to Spring Creek aid station. This was the part I really needed to utilize ( I told myself). Always noted as a downhill runner, I would be sure to use those sections to capitalize on any lead I had, and to push myself the hardest I could so I knew what I "had." You guessed it...now on the turn around, it was the long ascent up...passing through those aid stations once again, only this time dry (thanks again to hubby Wyatt!). On the way down a freak thunderstorm passed through, down poured on all of us, and moved on.
Playing games with myself to keep the focus, I counted in my head...5,6,7,8..up to 30 seconds...30 seconds that is all the break you can have after a few minutes of pushing hard Michele ( I told myself). The plan worked. Numerous runners poured down the mountain as I ran up...their words of encouragement meant so much more than they would ever know. They "moved" me...all the way to Summit Lake aid station for the second time.
Keeping my stay brief, my tummy fueled, and my mind optimistic I got on the flooded, now technical Wyoming trail. My heart sank, I realized I could hardly see through small, dim beam of light coming from my head lamp. "Am I getting night blindness? Are my eyes watering so bad from the snow and cold I can't see?" (Yes, I said snow, although not that bad, it was snowing)...Oh no!!! I made a rookie mistake and forgot to change out my batteries!!!!" Feeling so slow, and like I was losing ground, I pushed myself through the darkness, splashing in puddles and tripping over tree roots. This was supposed to be the "fun" trail for me! Thankful my light wasn't totally out, I surged onto Long Lake aid station where I would be forever grateful to the aid station volunteer for giving me new batteries! With only 45 minutes of darkness left...and about 13 miles to go...I rushed out of there like my pants were on fire! I needed to be strong on these last two sections in order to make up some time. Although never even looking at my watch for a majority of the race, I did now and saw that I could MAYBE make it under 20 hours. My emotions were getting to me, my anxiety grew with each step towards Mt. Werner aid station (the final one before the finish). Frustration built, " where is the damn aid station!?...it has to be around this corner, okay up this hill, okay around this corner, grrrr!" With all the voices in my head, a real one appeared, "great job Michele, almost to the aid station!" ...a fellow 50 mile runner would exclaim. Relieved, I trudged on, soon greeted by Mt.Werner aid station and numerous 50 mile runners with their energized words as my quads screamed out on the final downhill.
On the last trail called zigzag, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the way in. I loved every painful minute of this race. The other runners, volunteers, race director, and supporters made this experience the best I could have asked for. With God all things are possible, and I am so happy he decided to give me the ability to run again. I did not break that 20 hour mark, but I did finish 1st female 20:16:54, 7th overall.
Steamboat Springs, CO- Labor Day weekend. Wyatt and I rented a cabin at Steamboat campground to get some great training in and view some of the Run Rabbit Run 100 mile course.